KENT — Lorain County authorities have charged a Kent police captain and his wife with money laundering and racketeering in a grand jury indictment related to their interest in alleged illegal gambling at so-called “internet cafes.”
James W. “Jayme” Cole, 52, and his wife Audrey Cole, 45, both of Stow, were indicted Wednesday by a Lorain County grand jury on three counts of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity — commonly called racketeering — which are all first-degree felonies; seven counts of money laundering, all third-degree felonies; four counts of illegal casino gaming, all fifth-degree felonies; and four counts of operating a gambling house, all first-degree misdemeanors.
Cole has been a Kent police officer since July 1988, according to his personnel file, released by the city and reviewed Thursday by the Record-Courier following a public records request.
According to the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram, a Lorain County grand jury was convened following an investigation and a series of raids Aug. 15 in multiple Northeastern Ohio counties.
“These indictments are the result of an ongoing investigation involving numerous law enforcement agencies including the Ohio Casino Control Commission, the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office and a number of other area police agencies,” Lorain County Prosecutor Dennis Will said.
One of the raids was on Cole’s home in Stow. Agents of the Portage County Drug Task Force served a search warrant there Aug. 15 on behalf of Lorain County authorities and seized records and cash, according to a law enforcement official who asked not to be identified due to the ongoing investigation.
Cole was placed on paid administrative leave the following day after the Kent Police Department was made aware of the investigation, Kent police spokesman Lt. Mike Lewis said. That changed to unpaid leave on Wednesday when Cole was arrested.
Lewis and Police Chief Michelle Lee said they have no reason to believe Cole committed any crimes in Kent or Portage County.
Cole became a Kent police officer after attending the Hiram Police Department Basic Police Academy in late 1987. He briefly worked as a dispatcher for both Hiram and Chagrin Falls police before Kent police hired him in July 1988.
He served on road patrol, earning Officer of the Year in 1994 along with a Meritorious Service Award, and was the department’s MADD Officer of the Year every year from 1990-94.
Cole was promoted to sergeant in July 1998 and to lieutenant in June 2006, serving both as a patrol supervisor and later as the department’s spokesman. He was promoted to captain in 2011.
In recent years, howeverm Lee’s performance reviews of her second-in-command cited Cole for “unreliability,” including missing several overtime shifts in 2015-16 and failing to show up for a shift on Halloween 2016 — one of the busiest nights of the year for Kent police.
Only one disciplinary item was included in Cole’s personnel file: An internal departmental investigation in 2012 resulted in a two-week suspension without pay, restitution to the department and the loss of his take-home vehicle after Lee discovered the captain was using it for personal matters.